Location - Paluma Range National Park, North Queensland, Australia
Distance - approximately 16 km loop (via Bullocky Tom's Track)
Time - allow 8-10 hours
Grade - v3 a2 IV *** (French Grading System)
Approach - 50 - 90 minutes
Descent - 3 hour for 4-6 people
Exit - 1-3 hours depending on route
Elevation loss: approximately 400 metres
Flash flooding level: Medium
This creek reminds me of "The Terraces" - waterfall after waterfall albeit quite different. Very beautiful, untouched scenery with mossy rocks and large king ferns surrounding the creek.
There are three options to do this trip:
- Organise a car shuttle from Paluma Dam to Mango Tree carpark (the Rockslides car park). Walk in via Paluma Dam past Crystal Falls to Gold Creek Falls, and rappel down the creek to the inlet plant.
- Or walk from Paluma Dam to Crystal Falls, rappel down the falls to Gold Creek fork and rock climb up Gold Creek to the Bullocky Tom's Track and walk back to Paluma Dam.
- Or walk up the Bullocky Tom's Track to Gold Creek Falls and rappel down the falls and continue downstream to the water intake plant and water back along the road to the Mango Tree carpark.
I recommend starting early and hike up "Bullocky Tom's Track" to Gold Creek Falls (two hours) and then abseil down thirteen waterfalls to join into Crystal Creek's lower section, some abseils are optional.
Two more raps before exiting the creek at the intake plant and walking back along the road to the car.
Gold Creek has many waterfalls and plenty of natural anchors to rappel from - i.e. well-rooted solid trees. If a tree is starting to look damaged or rig barked, please add some webbing and link or use another tree.
It's very beautiful but the rocks can be slippery due to the moist and mossy nature. King ferns are present in this area.
Most of Gold Creek is shaded by the rainforest canopy so sun protection is not needed until you enter Crystal Creek.
Here's a map with all the suggested routes:
Note take we take the Paluma tracks to Crystal Ck or Gold Ck so no bush bashing is involved.
R1 Gold Creek Falls (optional)
RHS, tree, 50m
Optional - can walk down Bullocky Tom's Track a few metres and then scramble down steep terrain on loose soil.
R2 (approach from the RHS)
LHS, tree, ~15m
RHS, tree, ~20-25m
Centre or LHS, tree, ~10-15m
, tree, 25-30m
Can scramble down on the right
RHS, tree, 30m
Rappel 10m to ledge and then continue to rappel down next falls.
R8 (approach by scrambling up to tree on right)
RHS, tree, 15m into pool
LHS, tree, 10-15m
Can combine with R10 to make one long rappel ~40m
LHS, tree, 10-15m
Rock Scramble to next section ~400m.
R11 Corkscrew Falls
RHS, tree, 30m
RHS, tree, 10-15m
LHS, tree, 15m
Optional - Can easily scramble down left side.
What to bring
A day pack with
- About 1L of water for the walk in. Refill at the creek.
- Food and snacks for the day.
- Shoes; I recommend shoes that have grip on wet mossy granite rocks, drain & dry quickly.
- Insect repellent
- A 60m rope, harness, rappel device, prusik and carabiner as a third hand.
- A headlight (or torch)
- Please bring an extra set of clothes to leave in the car at the bottom.
- First aid kit and a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon)
See the Crystal Creek article for rappels downstream of the junction.
Stinging tree (Gympie Gympie) may be present in this creek.